Sales enablement initiatives are only as effective as the people who utilize them. According to CSO Insights, 94.3% of sales enablement initiatives are focused on salespeople and account managers, and 63.1% are also focused on sales managers. But no matter how brilliant your enablement initiative is, if you build it they may not come – this isn’t a fun trip to Vegas. Sales managers and reps have a trillion things to do each day, getting them to use a new tool or change their process requires a lot more persuasion than simply telling them it will benefit them.
While humans have a natural bias against change, for salespeople this is exacerbated. A survey of over 2,000 reps found that 62% of perceived seller burden can be attributed to overly complex internal processes and procedures that reps are asked to follow. So it’s no surprise that reps and managers may be reluctant to embrace the idea of adding yet another new tool or process to the mix.
While sales enablement exists to improve “seller experience” your initiative has to earn its stripes before your sellers see it that way. Best practice sales enablement leaders understand that their sellers are their customers, and a good seller experience is crucial to engagement and in turn adoption. While many focus on managing upwards – for recognition, funding, and reward – managing your customers is imperative to long-term success.
Here are five proven ways to ensure your sellers have the best experience with your new sales enablement initiative, so it has the best chance of succeeding.
1. Have a launch campaign
If your reps and managers don’t know that the new tool or process exists, they can’t use it. In a large company, this can be a real problem. Sending an email won’t be sufficient, just think how carefully you read every broadcast message that hits your inbox in a week. To succeed you need to launch your initiative, so it’s news rather than noise.
Reps will also need to know how the new initiative fits in and if it requires training, this needs to be provided in a way that ensures your reps are comfortable doing the new process or using the new tool in front of a customer. If they know how to use something, they’re more likely to try it rather than just putting it into the too-hard-basket and avoiding it.
2. Lead by example
Informing your sales team and training them is great, but your launch will be more impactful if you lead by example. One of our customers, Mulesoft, did just that when launching their new corporate messaging. The initiative was launched at their weekly town hall meeting by their CEO who completed a role play mission on MindTickle in front of the entire company. He not only showed everyone what the messaging should sound like but also how to use their sales readiness tools, role modeling the behavior for the entire organization. Once he completed the mission he then encouraged everyone in the company, not just the sales team, to complete the mission.
3. Give them proof
If your sellers see no value in your sales enablement initiatives, they will be destined to fail. It’s one thing to tell someone that they will benefit from a new process or tool, but it’s another to back that up with hard data. After all, salespeople are focused on closing deals, they don’t value something immediately unless they can see the connection to achieving their end goal.
Mendix found the value in this when executing their Sales Champions Program. They showed sales managers the impact the new initiatives had on conversion rates. It is difficult, even for the most dedicated naysayer, to deny cold hard facts.
Depending on what you’re measuring, it may be difficult or even too early to have hard data. There are other types of proof that you can use that are just as impactful. Get one of your sales reps to video their success story and share that with the broader team, or interview a customer so they can hear how the change has made a difference to them. These are both powerful ways to demonstrate value and provide real proof of success.
4. Create a new normal with gamification
Over 90% of VP of Sales report that their gamification initiatives are successful, with 70% reporting an increase in sales performance from between 11% and 50%. Gamification, whether it’s through leaderboards, badges or other techniques that generate healthy competition among your sales reps, increases engagement and if they’re engaged they’ll adopt your new initiative. Adoption is the only way to ensure your initiative sticks.
You know you’ll have truly achieved adoption when your new tools or process become second nature – they’re the new normal. The new normal is the sign of success – your reps and managers do this day in day out without friction or complaint because it works!
5. Get feedback
To increase engagement your reps and managers need to know that they are being heard. Seek feedback on your initiative soon after implementation and again later once it’s been used by your team for a few weeks. This will help identify any issues and give you the opportunity to iron out any teething problems. By heeding their feedback and letting them know it’s being addressed it will also increase the chance of adoption and engagement. Otherwise, it may negatively impact the seller experience and the success of your initiative.
Some companies do this by pushing out surveys to their reps. This can be used to obtain feedback on a range of initiatives such as your sales kickoff. It’s also a handy way to inform what topics your reps want to see at your events.
No matter how great your sales enablement initiative is, the proof of its success is in the execution. For any implementation to succeed the users need to be on board and adopt the change. So don’t just focus your efforts up the line, spend time looking at your seller’s experience. This will also augur well for any future initiatives that you implement.